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Warmth (Closed: Apple family)


SteelEagle
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"Zap! Yer cider's ready!"
The weather outside sang its wintery ballad well and true, howling wind and chortling snow with the faintest hint of carols and songs from the town proper filtering on to add a festive mood to an already festive day. It was, after all, Hearth's Warming Eve, the friendliest day of the year and perhaps the most important day in all of the pony calendar. You'd have to be a loon to not celebrate with the lot of Equestria this day and she was no loon. Well, she might look like one. Her mane was more frizzy than not. Her eyes had the subtlest hint of bagging and looked a little pudgier than she would like. Try as she might she couldn't kick the foal weight. And damned as she was, she couldn't help but tend to Ambrosia's every beck and call.

 

She had proven to be a fussy little Princess bit Applejack was completely and totally helpless against her charms. Maybe it was the way that her mane seemed to sparkle something familiar in the back of Applejack's mind but the mother of two could scarcely be seen doing little else but responding to every cry and answering every whim of her newest foal, who was currently perched on Applejack's back as she finished up a nap. Between her and Zap Apple, Applejack had her hooves full. Almost too full. Zap Apple was the best colt a momma could ask for but that came with all the rambunctiousness and good, hard-playing and inquisitiveness that the title called for. But today? Today everything was worth it, because they had an Apple family celebration to attend.

 

The living room was decked out just right. The tree was the right size and the family had decorated it together, and drawings and pictures of family ad the holiday symbols littered the walls. In front of a roaring fire were resting blankets and spots for cookies and cider as gifts were laid under the tree. Rainbow was due in any minute now with the last mystery package, and Zap was upstairs brushing his teeth and cleaning himself upright and proper like. She knew he was excited but that was no excuse to go trodding snow ad mud across the house. Plus, she wanted him fresh for his cinnamon apple cider!

 

She poured his cup and then two more before grabbing one and trotting into the living room, sitting not far from the fire. She used her tail to grab Ambrosia as Applejack sat down, bringing the foal back into her nuzzling embrace a moment later. Didn't want her to fall now! Applejack gave her daughter a big kiss on the base of her horn. "Momma's so happy and ya know why?" Another kiss! "It's yer first Hearth's Warming Eve!" Another kiss! Followed by a sip of her cider. "An' tha cider's perfect too!" She smiled wide. The only thing that could make this better was a hug from her son, her wife, or her son and wife!

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Ambrosia gazed at the bright, warm colors; the green of the garlands complemented perfectly by the lighter shade of such in her eyes.  She was only a few months into the great adventure of life, but she'd already learned many things.  Who all the voices were that she had heard through the walls of the room, what love felt like, and just when and how to cry to extract the maximum amount of affection and attention with the minimum amount of voiced frustration.  Now, she knew, was not a time to be fussy.  Now was the time to be wide-eyed and giggly and joyful, and soon all the love and attention she deserved would come pouring in from the orange and blue mothers.

 

"Heheh, hear-war!"  That was her latest tactic, imitating the sounds the orange one made.  That really brought on the loving, even if she didn't quite 'get' the whole language thing yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Zap had no idea how lucky he was. Being a member of the Apple family was possibly the best thing ever. He didn't know a life outside of apples, and though he often wondered what it would be like to discover parts of the world when he got older, he had no idea that being born into this family would give him, among other great perks, a lifetime supply of apple cider, something many ponies in Equestria covet, and some with contempt. Being called for cider was just like being called for anything else. Don't acknowledge it at first, pretend to acknowledge it second, and then scream down the stairs as fast as you could to get as much attention as possible. It was a foolproof plan, and one that had an extraordinary success rate, even during times in which he might have been punished.

 

Ambrosia's presence in this family provided Zap with his most difficult obstacle he has faced. Having been an only child until just recently, he had been able to gain the attention of his parents and extended family fairly easily, in order that he can feel secure and loved. But now that he had competition for Mommy's love, he was more rambunctious in and around the barn, often getting into extracurricular activities that his parents would have advised him not to get into. And sometimes, he would bite off more than he could chew, and learn a lesson the hard way, and with the help of Mommy's paddle, sometimes two. If Zap was honest enough and aware enough of his own livelihood, he knew nothing much had changed, and that most of his adjustments were internal. But his baby sister provided an excuse to ignore the warning signs of maturity trying to inch its way into his mind.

 

Zap zipped down the stairs in his hoovie pajamas, his goggles around his neck, and raced towards his mother, using his wings to spare extra time between trots. He reached on top of the table where his cider cup was, and sipped it carefully as to not burn himself. "MMMmmm." He exclaimed before looking over at Ambrosia. "You're gonna love Heart's Warming, Amby! You don't know this yet but," Zap leaned into his little sister and whispered, "We get lots of presents."

 

Zap jumped in place for a few seconds to help burn his excess energy and then asked his mother a curiosity. "Is Auntie going to be here tonight?"

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Rainbow honed her dive out of sky to head straight for a warm sort of light in front of her. As she neared the farm house the pegasus lofted for a moment, savoring everything wonderful that was happening in her life.

 

She had the most wonderful wife, the best son a pony could ask for, aaaand the cutest (if not a little princess-y) daughter in all of Equestria! 

 

The pegasus had undergone some transformation over the past months. A transformation of her mind more than anything else. She could think more clearly now and see  further beyond her own thoughts and desires than she ever had before. It helped. It helped her and more importantly it helped the love of her life.

 

"Thank Celestia you turned it around Dash." Her heart pained a little at all the sludge she had taken AJ through in their relationship. But after a few sound kicks in the rear and some honest to goodness truth that hurt way more than any kick, RD had straightened herself out!

 

She had saddle bags on her back and as she landed at the door she reached back and gripped the bags lightly in her muzzle. Sje was careful for sure, there was something important inside after all She! She pressed the door open, meeting a rush a warm air that melted the cold of the night right off her. 

 

"Is that cinnamon cider I smell?" She called out as she trotted into the family room. 

 

There they all were. Her heart melted just like the light dusting of snow off her mane when she'd entered the house. Dash dropped the saddle bags softly by the tree and went to her wife.

 

"Hey beautiful." She spoke softly, her eyes shining as she gave AJ a gentle kiss on the cheek. Then she looked down at Amby and smiled, her hoof lightly touching the foal's mane.

 

"Where's my main man?" She glanced over to Zap. "There he is! How's the cider Zappers? You having a fun night so far?"

 

She picked up her steaming mug and took a sip. "Who else are we expecting AJ?"

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She spoke! Well, she didn't speak in a way others would call speaking but Applejack considered it speaking. Ambrosia was the best foal currently in the world and she would brook no disagreement. She tickled her daughter's chin a little as she held back tears. She loved Ambrosia so much it hurt her. Her heart could only ever expand to take in how she felt about her family- Rainbow Dash, Zap Apple, and now Ambrosia all occupied their unique positions in her heart, in her soul, and sharing as much as she did hurt if only because she wanted to give even more. "Hearth's Warming is right, sugarcube! Day of an' you already got it, you smartie!" She said, giving her daughter snout kisses up and down. She could have done it for hours and she had, but today she was too excited. "Yer gonna have tha best time or else mah name ain't Applejack!" She said as she heard her son make his entrance.

 

She was stunned every time she saw him. He was such a handsome little colt and so smart, well behaved, and he was growing up so fast! Well, to her eyes. She knew he could be a little troublemaker but you knew that those were the types of colts and fillies who grew up right and proper. What was foalhood but a time for excitement and learning? And there was nopony who was more excited to learn about the things that really mattered- home and hearth- than her little-big Zap Apple. "Yer right on tha bits there! Presents, good food, friends, an-" she pulled him in for a hug and a kiss, "-tha best big brother this side of Equestria," she said before pulling back and checking behind his ears out of force of habit. "Apple Bloom should be here soon, She ran ta tha post office real quick," she said with a wink. Some of the gifts she had ordered for had arrived awfully late and the post office was swamped.

 

She would ask Rainbow but she had her own packages and matters to attend to, and at the end of her trip, her wife to attend to as well. And attend to her she did when Rainbow came flying in with her saddlebags, Applejack's heart aflutter as Rainbow gave her a kiss which she returned forcefully in kind. Rainbow had come a long way which as saying something because Applejack had loved her even before all that, but now she was as a mother and wife as high quality as she had been a fillyfriend and was a Wonderbolt. "Hey there hotshot," she said, nuzzling her wife as she stood up. "Still waitin' on Apple Bloom. You got everything?"



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Apple Bloom trotted healthily home, her back saddled with saddles of mail and presents. She was as perfect as pie today on account of it being the holidays and being with her family which always made her day perfect. She may have a wandering eye for the future and a desire to see the world growing in her heart but that didn't mean she didn't want to be around her family, especially around the holidays. Applejack had needed somepony to run to the town's post office and Apple Bloom was available so she made a quick trot on over. It was a mistake. It was busy. It got hectic. Derpy had messed up a delivery order and dozens of ponies were there. Apple Bloom wasn't sure how she had gotten out of there after only kicking one stallion during the ensuing melee but she had gotten out of there quick, clean, and with everything she was supposed to get safely tucked away.

 

So when she made her entrance, she made it with a smile. "Don't worry everypony, yer hero's arrived!" She said as she trotted over to the tree and started removing packages. "Got a little bit of everything for everypony! Hey Zap, wanna help yer aunt set everypony's gifts out?" She asked as she mussed up his mane. After all, the sooner she got everything sorted out the sooner she could have the cider!

Ambrosia had a bunch of smaller gifts and then a big box. Zap Apple had a wide mix, things that ponked and pronked and rattled and cackled. Apple Bloom had a few things but nothing like the kids, and Applejack even less- though the mother of two looked at the boxes with blazing hazel eyes all the same. Rainbow had a few things but Applejack always said it was hard to buy gifts for the mare that had everything- even her!

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Ambrosia just gave out the most delightful giggles and babyish noises of happiness at the sudden onslaught of affection from The Orange One.  She was learning quickly how to trigger these storms, and having been fed and changed shortly beforehand, had no desires beyond getting more love, more!  Honestly, it would be hard to blame an onlooker for suspecting a changeling staged a switcheroo, with how persistently love was pursued by the little peach-and-pink fuzz ball.

 

But would the same technique that worked on the Orange One work on the others?  Amby would have a chance to test that many times in quick succession.  First with her big brother, a pegasus excitedly telling her of all the wonders of the day.  Not that she understood a word he said, in fact, there was only one recognizable sound she could associate with him.  "Za-pa?  Hehehe!"  She cooed happily, reaching out as if to boop the colt's snoot, but she was far too tiny to reach.

 

One pony who was big enough to reach was the Blue One, who gave her a pat on the head.  Which was fine, of course, but not near enough for the cutest little filly in the world!  "Ray-bo!"  She called out, reaching out her little hooves for more.

And then her auntie Bloom came in, though the yellow one was more preoccupied with the boxes than with her.  That was alright, though; Amby had her hooves full with all the members of the family, figuratively anyway.  Her literal hooves were soon holding a box, chewing the corner as she began to teeth...

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Zap did not answer the rhetorical question coming from his rainbow-maned mother. Of course he was having fun. And sometimes he had no idea why. The anticipation of the evening was enough to excite even the most hyper of foals. "I can't wait to open presents!" Even though the Apple family tradition had been to open presents on Hearth's Warming, Zap always found himself so excited to open presents that he contained no timetable for when he was allowed to. This year, he had an interesting distraction that kept him from getting overly excited for his own receiving of gifts. "And Amby can't wait either!"

 

When Apple Bloom walked in carrying several boxes with colorful wrapping and bows, Zap could not contain himself. He hopped over by Apple Bloom and started inspecting the loot. At one point, his aunt asked him if he wanted to set gifts out to everypony. He jumped but then paused. "But wait, we don't open presents until tomorrow right?" Zap wasn't going to argue, but it was a bit of a left turn for what seemed to be the norm.

 

When Zap saw Amby chewing on a box, he lifted in from her. "No no, little sis. We don't eat the boxes, we open them to see what's inside."

 

He then turned to his mothers. "Tonight!?"

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Rainbow glanced at AJ and raised a brow.

 

"Weeeeellll, I guess we can open presents tonight since you've been such good little fillies and colts this year!" It was of course planned that opening presents would happen tonight! Lots of families had their own Hearth's Warming tradition that were much more odd than opening gifts the night before. She thought about the Pie family for a moment. Pinkie was probably right in the middle of the oddities right now. But what was one pony's oddity was another pony's beloved traditions! Rainbow had learned much about finding the value in others over the past years and she'd grown a ton!

 

Rainbow went to her bags and pulled out some specials boxes and packages. She placed them in front of each pony in the room that she loved. Then she sat back, sipping on some super delicious cider to watch their responses to her gifts.

 

Abby was getting a fancy bits pouch with a fair sum of coins inside. She was a young mare now and would probably love being able to pick out her own gifts. Also there was a small framed picture of the whole family for her to set somewhere special.

 

Ammy was getting a special soft apple flavored teething toy. It was shaped like an apple pie and everything! Yummy! She also got a sweet little super soft onesie with shooting stars and moons on it.

 

AJ, the love of Rainbow's life. She'd had to think long and hard on this one! Family was AJ's first and foremost so RD had thought on that route. She'd spoken with Granny Smith and had been able to rustle up some very old photos that even AJ hadn't seen! RD had arranged them in a lovely and rustic album. There was lots of room to add new images of their family after the super old ones. RD had even added some recent ones of them. 

 

Zappers!  It was a small package and inside was a collar. Not a large one but more puppy size. RD had asked AJ and they had decided he was old enough to start learning responsibility. It was the right time in his life for a furry friend of his own. Rainbow opened the carrier she had carefully hidden on the way in. Out came a puppy! Of course the whole family would e joy having a pup around but it would belong to Zap!

 

RD waited to see how they would like their gifts!

 

(I left the puppy details open so hippo can decide the kind of pup Zap should have)

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Applejack nodded. It was true, most years they'd so so in the morning but this year was different. Between all of her different jobs, Apple Bloom spending more time out and about, Rainbow's Wonderbolts duty, and Big Mac visiting Sugar Belle's family, this was one o the only times she could guarantee they'd all be together. It wasn't perfect and it wasn't necessarily traditional but sometimes you had to bend a little before you broke. She then winked. "Well, Ah reckon we're gonna do something different," she said with a laugh, inviting Zap Apple over. "We're gonna open up presents tonight so we can just enjoy ourselves all day tomorrow. Doesn't that sound fun?" She asked redundantly because he was Zap Apple and everything was fun, especially if it involves presents, if he was anywhere nearby.

 

There were two ways the Apples normally opened presents. The first was how many others did it- one gift-opener at a time, all of their presents. That was all fine and dandy. The second, and the way that it was being done today, which was have the pony who was giving the gifts give out their gifts and then change the gift-giver. Both worked. Dash was the first to start with her gifts.

 

Apple Bloom got her pouch and then tossed it in the air, pleasantly surprised at the heft of bits her sister-in-law gave her. It was a real nice pouch and the bits would certainly go a long way. Then there was the more emotionally connective of the gifts, the picture would remain near her bedside for the foreseeable future. "Thank ya, Dash! This picture means a lot ta me," she said as she stuffed the bits in her saddlebag and investigated the picture some more.

Ambrosia got an adorable little onesie and a teething toy that made her wish she was still a foal! RD was getting a good eye for the cute and adorable. Maybe soon they'd both be having tea parties? Ha, as if!

 

When it came time for Applejack to receive her gift it was exactly what she would have wanted: Another album full of family photos. "How sweet of ya!" She said with a broad smile before opening it and looking at it deeper. For a bit she got lost in the pictures. She had never seen some of these. She knew that she inherited her love of albums and photography from her Granny and therefore the fact there were unseen photos was no shock. But these memories were now hers to shepherd. Each of the older ones was a fragment of the past that only shed new and ever more fortunate lights on the ponies of the past. The spaces forward, though? Ever more space to document the growth of her family. It was the perfect gift from the perfect mare and Applejack was lost in it, unable to really put into words how much she liked it.

 

She was pulled out of her focus when she heard the first barks of the new family dog. Truth be told she wasn't much on board with it at first. They already had Winona and she was heading into her season soon and with the growth of the town there were a lot of male dogs in the area. Bound to get a puppy that way! But that was easy for her to say. Everypony considered Winona Applejack's dog, even if it wasn't meant that way. She couldn't deny that she was the one who spent the most with Winona and took care of her, so she couldn't quite summon up the agency to put her hoof down. And besides, she liked dogs, everypony liked dogs, and having a pup of your own would be good for Zap. In time, another member of the family that would grow and change!

 

"Yep, Ah think you knocked it right outta tha park this year, RD," AJ said as she pulled her wife down to the floor by her tail so she could plant a big kiss on her, as she deserved.

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"MM-ba?"  She could only look up in confusion at Zap tried to explain what presents were for.  Were they not for chewing?  She needed something to chew.  And this day was about ponies getting what they needed, right?

 

But then, magic happened!  Not the sort of unicorn magic she'd soon be making her poor mamas lose sleep over her getting, nor the much-vaunted 'magic of Heartswarming' that brought families together and banished windingos, but an altogether more childish fantasy of transformation, where the pretty-colored boxes were turned into other things!  "Oooh, ooh!"  She reached her little hooves out for the onesie, which she was duly changed into.  At which point, the apple pie chew toy was put into her grasp, and soon she was chomping down on it like she was little AJ at a fritter-fest!  She looked so cute in the ensemble, that the Orange One would no doubt want the first new picture in her album to be of little Ambrosia's first christmas.

 

And in future days, all would look back upon tonight as the night when the little charmer first got a taste for good-looking clothes.

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Rainbow let her wonderful wife pull her in for a big old smooch. Her heart was full indeed! This was more than she could have ever asked for or dreamed of. She had the perfect wife, the perfect family, the perfect pretty much everything! She smiled after the smooch, wiping a little hint of a tear from the corner of one eye. RD glanced around, noting the Amby was loving her gifts and nomming away. Abby seemed plenty happy with her gift and Rainbow really hoped it made her feel like the grown up mare she was becoming! She could tell by reactions all around the room that her presents had been a hit! 

 

 

"Yep, Ah think you knocked it right outta tha park this year, RD," 

 

Rainbow smiled again and looked lovingly at AJ. "Only the best for the best family ever!" She spoke softly, loving every moment of this. 

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Zap squeed nonsense as he was given permission to open presents. He made no haste. He darted right for the first present given to him and attempted to open it. The contents of the small box was a leather color, black in color with a shiny5 medallion tied to it. He was confused. "Uh, was this supposed to be Winona's present?"

 

When Zap looked up, he saw a small puppy running towards him. The colt gasped. His reaction was still confusion but slowly comprehended the situation. The puppy approached him eagerly, sniffing the box he was holding, and then licked his face a couple times. "Is...  is this, a puppy...   for me!?" Zap's look of disbelief turned to an ear to ear smile. "You got me a puppy!" Zap jumped in place, the puppy's expression matching his enthusiasm despite not knowing what was so exciting. The dog barked a couple times, and ran around the room to explore the place he was now allowed to walk freely in.

 

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Zap laid down after jumping a few times, and the puppy ran to his side and commenced licking him. Once Zap recovered from the puppy onslaught, he poked his head up and asked his mothers. "Can I name him!?"

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